John Melançon's Life

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Native Humor

Dad said there were Indians he was with out West – and I'm totally blanking on where, but I want to say Washington State – who were the funniest people he ever knew.

He also said they asked if he was an Indian, because he sure was dark enough and there was a tribe with blue eyes somewhere around.

They would parody, well, white culture so well it left my Dad in stitches:

My Dad, scientist. Ape-human divergence determined to be even longer ago.

Dad always said he thought that human beings split from apes way back, farther back in time than scientists reported it when such estimates first made it into the public.

And indeed, every few years in my memory while Dad was alive, new evidence pushed the evolutionary divergence farther back.

Here we go again.

You are lucky. You are free.

A professor I knew, I was walking with him on campus. He told me that I was very lucky.

I didn't know what he was talking about. He was surrounded by learning, knowledge, teaching.

You are free, he said. You can say what you want.

Educated People

Dad told me he had a great respect for educated people, not having an education himself.

It took me a long time to realize, to understand, that those with a college education are not smarter than me, usually did not know more than me.

He still said it as if he hoped I would tell him that he was right in the first place, that there was a there there.

He usually followed this by talking about how lucky he was to have had so many intelligent people in his life to educate him, frequently women.

Stock market drop

Dad told me more than once, in a times-have-changed-for-the-worse manner:

When the stock market crashed in 1929, reporters at the Boston Globe cheered.

When it falls now [in specific reference to a 1970s or 1980s drop, I think] it is like a funeral.

I tried to point out that the aftermath of that stock market crash of 1929 was the Great Depression – the most recent big one of many in U.S. history, actually – and it hurt a lot more than just the rich.

Henry Kissinger

When my Dad was in Israel, he was asked: "Isn't Kissinger a Jew?"

Dad replied: "No, he's a Nazi."

"Talk about powers of observation..."

[I think it was the same job that he knows he got only because of white skin privilege, though I'd have to ask to clarify. Note to self: too late now, %$#@&*!

It was a place with a big printing operation, his job was the lowest in the place to [move printed sheets].

He happened to notice that a word was mis-spelled, deodorant (maybe in the same way I just mis-spelled it, "deoderant"). He brought a sheet to his foreman who called the office and then yelled "stop the presses!"

The big boss wanted to know who spotted it.

Coming back from West Virginia

Dad calling from West Virginia 2004 March 19, Friday, 4 pm (from 304-549-0257)

Dad collapsed while caring for Cassidy. Spent three days in the hospital.

Cassidy is in daycare now.

[Dad was working] over 50 hours a week.

Things were going really well...

Looking into ways to get back...

Turned down job in South Africa

Dad was offered a good job in South Africa, he said. He was interested and then "What was I thinking?" he said. "If the situation in this country bothers me so..."

"It haunts me to this day"

In Philadelphia, Dad answered a job ad, he was probably about 16, he said.

There was another boy there, an African-American, a real go-getter. [Who looked like he really expected to get the job.]

Coming out of the interview where Dad got the job, it came to him that the other boy was not going to get the job.

It haunts me to this day. This very moment it haunts me.

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